Trick or Treat! Fun Halloween ideas for kids and the adults

by Terry Fletcher

Trick or Treat!! Some holiday fun for the kids and adults

I love this time of year. Halloween is such a fun start to what is already a chaotic holiday season that I can’t wait to see the kids at the door tonight.

Now, candy and costumes are great, and my large size candy bars with a toothbrush also attached to them are legendary, but there is more than one way to appreciate the Halloween season. We’ve thought up some additional Halloween activities your family can enjoy before and after the one night of trick or treating.

Pumpkin decorating is a great activity for fine motor skill development. Carve or paint pumpkins with friends or family! If you have time, you could save the seeds and innards to make toasted pumpkin seeds or bake pumpkin bread later. Remember, you don’t have to carve them, if you don’t have the time or want the mess. Just purchase some marking pens from the Dollar Store that will allow for color on a shiny surface and you are good to go. Have the kids find a photo first they love from one of their coloring books. Always good to start with that, as free style can be a bit interesting.

Corn mazes can easily become a fall tradition for your family or close friends.  Stay in a group and get lost together weaving through tall rows of fresh corn. Corn mazes are also a great way for kids to exercise problem solving, memory and leadership skills as well. Let children take turns leading the group. This is mostly a mid-west activity, but hear in Southern California, we improvise by making a corn maze at the beach and get the kids to walk through the sand through a maze the parents created. It makes for a lot of laughter.

Haunted houses can be a ton of fun if you let kids plan and operate their own version. Set rules about props, equipment, and cleaning up afterward and allow kids some free time to create their own “haunted” experience. Let the kids think through the path their visitors will take and space out spooky aspects along the way. If creating a haunted house is too scary for your child you can create a fall fun house displaying pumpkins, scarecrows, and other fall-themed decorations. Gather neighbors and other adults to walk through and enjoy the fun. Many discount stores have inexpensive orange, white and bluish black twinkling lights that can really make the experience festive.

Scavenger hunts can be a great adventure for kids. Get creative and make up a scavenger hunt for your kids. Make sure there is a Halloween theme. Have a friend or partner hide and be the treasure the clues lead to. Divide into groups so no one is running around outside in the dark alone. If young children are playing, assign each time a grown-up captain. I like to have the Giant Hershey’s Candy Bars as the prize for each team. They are usually $1 during this time of year at Walmart.

Werewolf Tag is a name for playing hide and seek tag outdoors after dark. There are many names for this simple but fun game. Be sure to establish boundaries before play starts. If younger children are hiding, break into pairs to hide. Once the people hiding have been spotted or suspect they’ve been found, the chase is on! No one is officially out until they’re tagged. Once someone is tagged they join the werewolf so there’s more than one seeker. By the end of the game there’s a whole pack of werewolves! We sometimes secretly put glow in the dark tape on the older kids so the younger ones can find them easier. Also, make sure everyone gets a set of plastic werewolf teeth to start.

Flashlight tag is a nice alternative if Werewolf tag is a little too scary. Play tag at night, but participants carry key chain flashlights so they can be seen and can see around them.

Lantern making is a fun crafting idea and a great way to decorate for a party. Simply take some brown or white paper lunch bags and cut fun shapes and designs into them. Put a little bit of sand into the bottom of the bag and place a battery-operated candle in the base.

Costume report means doing something like a book report but covering a Halloween costume instead of a single book. If your child is dressing as a famous person or character, help them read and watch information on this person and prepare a little oral report that they can give in class, at show and tell, or for family members. If your child is dressing as an animal or thing, they can do research and prepare a report. Your child can also include why they chose to dress up as this particular character or animal. A presentation like this one will help practice communication skills.

*Also if you decide one year that you just do not want to spend the money on a costume, or you waited until the last minute to decide on your child’s costume, here are a few ideas that can help relieve any stress:

  • Athlete (if your child plays soccer, or karate, or football, or any kind of sport have them wear their full uniform and put some eye black under their eyes and instant costume.
  • For girls, a black cat costume is so easy to make. A paper mask is all you need ($0.75 cents at most party or discount stores) and then have your child wear all black, draw some whiskers on their face with a pink nose, and you are good to go.
  • For boys, you can use that same face mask – cut the points at the top to make edges rounder and have them wear all one color and safety pin a light town to their back for a super hero. If you add a Star Trek light saber to the costume, which Amazon sells for $4.99, they can see when it gets dark.
  • How to carry candy? If your kids come home with the loot mine did, you need more than a pumpkin pale. We used old pillow cases for our candy collecting.

** It’s important to modify activities depending on age or ability of your children. Parent supervision is necessary for each activity listed. Talk to your children about safety during the Halloween season in order to ensure everyone has a fun time.

Lastly: Start a Candy Trade-In Tradition

Now this one is more for your own household. If your child has a food allergy (or you just think there is too much candy for one child to consume), you can set up a tradition in your family where candy can be traded in for other safe snack options, allergen-free treats, one big item, or even a chore they want to get out of. This is a growing trend, so there are even books you can use to introduce this new tradition. It also teaches them that bartering means they have to give up something to get something.

Happy Halloween Everyone!!